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Probating a Will for One Beneficiary

Do I Need to Probate a Will if I am the Only Beneficiary?

The answer is, “it depends.”

If you are the beneficiary of a will, you may need to probate the will if:

  1. The decedent had unpaid debts.
  2. The probate estate includes a bank or other financial account and the bank or financial institution will not release the funds without a probate.
  3. The probate estate includes a partial interest in real estate and you need clear title to the real estate.
  4. There is a likelihood or even possibility that someone may challenge the terms of the will now or in the future.
  5. The estate needs to sue another party (such as bringing a wrongful death claim) or is likely to get sued (such as litigation involving a business owned by the decedent).
  6. The estate is large enough to trigger an estate tax liability.

As an alternative, there may be other options that can be considered, including probating the will as a muniment of title only or other alternatives.